COMMENTARY: Challenges in launching a community-based group walking program for adults affected by cancer

Iris Lesser, Joleen Prystupa, Amanda Wurz


Walking is one form of physical activity (PA) individuals affected by cancer have indicated strong preference for and interest in, regardless of disease or treatment status. We developed a community-based, outdoor, peer-led walking program for adults affected by cancer called Walk it Out (WIO). Over the span of six months, we were unable to meet targets for peer-leaders (to lead the walking groups; n = 5 self-identified) or participants (n = 0 self-identified; n = 3 recruited via peer-leaders). This inability to recruit meant that we were not able to offer the WIO program. In this paper, we reflect upon the lack of coherence between what has been shown in the literature regarding preferences for walking and the lack of interest in the present program. We describe challenges at both the interpersonal and individual level. Adults affected by cancer can benefit immensely from PA, and desire outdoor walking programs, but the question remains: how do we best launch and promote this type of physical activity program?

Keywords: physical activity, cancer survivor, community programming, walking, outdoor activity, social connectedness

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